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LOW BACK - LUMBAR SPINE

Low Back / Lumbar Spine Stretches


10 Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain

  • Cat-Cow

  • Downward-Facing Dog

  • Extended Triangle

  • Sphinx Pose

  • Cobra Pose

  • Locust Pose

  • Bridge Pose

  • Half Lord of the Fishes

  • Two-Knee Spinal Twist

  • Child’s Pose

  • Research

  • Takeaway


Why it’s beneficial

If you’re dealing with back pain, yoga may be just what the doctor ordered. Yoga is a mind-body therapy that’s often recommended to treat not only back pain but the stress that accompanies it. The appropriate poses can relax and strengthen your body.


Practicing yoga for even a few minutes a day can help you gain more awareness of your body. This will help you notice where you’re holding tension and where you have imbalances. You can use this awareness to bring yourself into balance and alignment.


1. Cat-Cow

This gentle, accessible backbend stretches and mobilizes the spine. Practicing this pose stretches your torso, shoulders, and neck.


Muscles worked:

  • erector spinae

  • rectus abdominis

  • triceps

  • serratus anterior

  • gluteus maximus


To do this:

  1. Get on all fours.

  2. Place wrists underneath shoulders and knees underneath hips.

  3. Balance weight evenly between all four points.

  4. COW: Inhale as you look up and let stomach drop down toward the mat.

  5. CAT: Exhale as you tuck chin into chest, draw navel toward spine, and arch spine toward the ceiling.

  6. Maintain awareness of your body as you do this movement.

  7. Focus on noting and releasing tension in your body.

  8. Continue this fluid movement for at least 1 minute.


2. Downward-Facing Dog

This traditional forward bend can be restful and rejuvenating. Practicing this pose can help relieve back pain and sciatica. It helps to work out imbalances in the body and improves strength.


Muscles worked:

  • hamstrings

  • deltoids

  • gluteus maximus

  • triceps

  • quadriceps


To do this:

  1. Get on all fours.

  2. Place hands in alignment under wrists and knees under hips.

  3. Press into hands, tuck toes under, and lift up knees.

  4. Bring sitting bones up toward the ceiling.

  5. Keep a slight bend in knees and lengthen spine and tailbone.

  6. Keep heels slightly off the ground.

  7. Press firmly into hands.

  8. Distribute weight evenly between both sides of body, pay attention to the position of hips and shoulders.

  9. Keep head in line with upper arms or with chin tucked in slightly.

  10. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.


3. Extended Triangle

This classic standing posture may help alleviate backache, sciatica, and neck pain. It stretches the spine, hips, and groin, and strengthens shoulders, chest, and legs. It also helps relieve stress and anxiety.


Muscles worked:

  • latissimus dorsi

  • internal oblique

  • gluteus maximus and medius

  • hamstrings

  • quadriceps


To do this:

  1. From standing, walk feet about 4 feet apart.

  2. Turn right toes to face forward, and left toes out at an angle.

  3. Lift arms parallel to the floor with palms facing down.

  4. Tilt forward and hinge at right hip to come forward with arm and torso.

  5. Bring hand to leg, a yoga block, or onto the floor.

  6. Extend your left arm up toward the ceiling.

  7. Look up, forward, or down.

  8. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.

  9. Repeat on the opposite side.


4. Sphinx Pose

This gentle backbend strengthens your spine and buttocks. It stretches your chest, shoulders, and abdomen. It also helps relieve stress.


Muscles worked:

  • erector spinae

  • gluteal muscles

  • pectoralis major

  • trapezius

  • latissimus dorsi


To do this:

  1. Lie on stomach with legs extended behind you.

  2. Engage the muscles of lower back, buttocks, and thighs.

  3. Bring elbows under shoulders with forearms on the floor and palms facing down.

  4. Slowly lift up your upper torso and head.

  5. Gently lift and engage lower abdominals to support your back.

  6. Ensure that you’re lifting up through your spine and out through the crown of head, instead of collapsing into your lower back.

  7. Keep gaze straight ahead, fully relax in this pose, while at the same time remaining active and engaged.

  8. Stay in this pose for up to 5 minutes.


5. Cobra Pose

This gentle backbend stretches abdomen, chest, and shoulders. Practicing this pose strengthens your spine and soothes sciatica. It helps relieve stress and fatigue that can accompany back pain.


Muscles worked:

  • hamstrings

  • gluteus maximus

  • deltoids

  • triceps

  • serratus anterior


To do this:

  1. Lie on stomach with hands under shoulders and fingers facing forward.

  2. Draw arms in tightly to chest. Don’t allow elbows to go out to the side.

  3. Press into hands to slowly lift head, chest, and shoulders.

  4. You can lift partway, halfway, or all the way up.

  5. Maintain a slight bend in elbows.

  6. You can let your head drop back to deepen the pose.

  7. Release back down to mat on an exhale.

  8. Bring arms by your side and rest your head.

  9. Slowly move hips from side to side to release tension from your lower back.


6. Locust Pose

This gentle backbend helps relieve lower back pain and fatigue. It strengthens the back torso, arms, and legs.


Muscles worked:

  • trapezius

  • erector spinae

  • gluteus maximus

  • triceps


To do this:

  1. Lie on stomach with arms next to torso and palms facing up.

  2. Touch big toes together and turn out heels to the side.

  3. Place forehead lightly on the floor.

  4. Slowly lift head, chest, and arms partway, halfway, or all the way up.

  5. You may bring hands together and interlace fingers behind back.

  6. To deepen the pose, lift legs.

  7. Look straight ahead or slightly upward as you lengthen the back of your neck.

  8. Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.

  9. Rest before repeating the pose.


7. Bridge Pose

This is a backbend and inversion that can be stimulating or restorative. It stretches the spine and it may relieve backaches and headaches.


Muscles worked:

  • rectus and transverse abdominis

  • gluteus muscles

  • erector spinae

  • hamstrings


To do this:

  1. Lie on back with knees bent and heels drawn into sitting bones.

  2. Rest arms alongside your body.

  3. Press feet and arms into the floor as you lift your tailbone up.

  4. Continue lifting until thighs are parallel to the floor.

  5. Leave arms as they are, bringing palms together with interlaced fingers under hips, or placing hands under hips for support.

  6. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.

  7. Release by slowly rolling spine back down to the floor, vertebra by vertebra.

  8. Drop knees in together.

  9. Relax and breathe deeply in this position.


8. Half Lord of the Fishes

This twisting pose energizes your spine and helps to relieve backache. It stretches hips, shoulders, and neck. This pose helps alleviate fatigue and stimulates internal organs.


Muscles worked:

  • rhomboids

  • serratus anterior

  • erector spinae

  • pectoralis major

  • psoas


To do this:

  1. From a seated position, draw right foot in close to body.

  2. Bring left foot to the outside of leg.

  3. Lengthen spine as you twist body to the left.

  4. Take left hand to the floor behind you for support.

  5. Move right upper arm to the outside of left thigh, or wrap elbow around left knee.

  6. Try to keep hips square to deepen the twist in your spine.

  7. Turn gaze to look over either shoulder.

  8. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.

  9. Repeat on the other side.


9. Two-Knee Spinal Twist